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Africa Travel Planner
Taking Public Transportation
If you are traveling independently, public transportation—when approached with a degree of caution and a sense of adventure—is a viable option that can add flavor to your trip. Here, our experts weigh in on each option.
By Air Though expensive, planes can jet you from place to place safely and with little hassle. (Many African countries, like Madagascar, are known for having poorly maintained roads.) Or you can charter a private plane. In Kenya, consider calling Nairobi's Tropic Air Wilson Airport, recommends Kuki Gallmann, author of I Dreamed of Africa (which takes place in Kenya). Elsewhere, seek a recommendation from a U.S. consulate, embassy, or tourist board.
By Taxi "Head straight for the information booth at the airport first," says Karen Cockburn, co-founder of the Africa Travel Centre. "They can recommend a bus or taxi and can negotiate the fare for you." Don't wander out to the curb to hail your own taxi. Uncertified drivers target foreigners unfamiliar with routes and zones and jack up costs.
By Bus or Train Trains offer scenic glimpses of Africa's countryside, but many are unreliable, except in South Africa. Buses allow access to the widest area, but they're few and far between, and passengers are much more susceptible to petty thievery. "Just try getting on a bus designed to take 40 people but is carrying over a hundred, and see if you don't get your pocket picked," challenges Mark Nolting, author and founder of the Africa Adventure Company. Safety on buses varies from country to country. Consult a local or a like-minded traveler for advice. "They can tell you about procedures, advise you about food and water for long trips, and give you pointers on local and long-distance buses or vans," says Jennifer Lawson, who produced a TV series on Africa for National Geographic.
Renting a Car and Hiring a Private Driver Unless you're in South Africa—where the roads are generally in better condition than countries like Madagascar, and road signs in English—think carefully about renting a car. For many, it's easier to hire a private licensed guide who leads motor trips, or a private driver.
Related Web Resources:
Google Web Directory Airlines, rental cars, bus services, and coach services in South African countries.
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